Would you like to work in Australia while studying and traveling there? As one of the top backpacker destinations in the world, many travelers and international students choose to experience life abroad in the “Land Down Under.”
Whether you’re studying English, taking college courses, or simply exploring the continent, working in Australia can help take care of your expenses. Also, due to its strong economy, there are plenty of job opportunities in Australia available to international students.
For students without financial support, working in Australia during your stay might be a necessity. On the bright side, having that work experience abroad is a great opportunity for your personal and professional development.
Table of Contents
Working in Australia | 10 Steps
How do I find work in Australia? Where should I look? How should I apply? It’s okay to have dozens of questions. Coming from different countries and backgrounds, many international students face the same uncertainties.
Fortunately, GrowPro Experience already did the homework for you. Here is our 10-step, comprehensive guide on everything you should know about working in Australia and how to get started:
1. Decide what kind of experience you want to live in Australia
Before embarking on any adventure, the first step is to figure out what you wish to achieve with it. What in Australia catches your interest and motivates you to stay there? Maybe it’s to improve your English or learn a trade. Perhaps you’d like to take an excursion around the country during a gap year. Whichever reason you decide, this will determine the best type of visa you’ll need.
We recommend the option of studying and working since it’s the most convenient way to get a visa for Australia. There are dozens of study abroad options in Australia that allow international students to work part-time during the semester.
2. Select the city you want to work in Australia
Next, discover which city offers the best experience and suits your lifestyle. The most popular cities in Australia— Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Brisbane, and Perth—each provide unique experiences for both lifestyle and job opportunities.
3. Obtain the work visa for Australia that suits your objectives
There are several types of visas that allow you to work in Australia, but each caters to certain goals. For example, there is a visa designed for students, while there’s another type of visa specifically for work sponsorships. Both allow you to work, but each allocates different durations and amounts of work hours. We’ll discuss each one in more detail later in the “visa” section of this guide.
4. Prepare a curriculum adapted to the country’s regulations
While awaiting your visa approval, you can utilize the time to prepare your CV or resume. Having a good resume is important in any country, but it’s equally important to adapt your resume style to the country in which you plan to work. In Australia, for example, it’s uncommon to include your photo on a resume. Also, it’s acceptable to have a few pages outlining your work experience, as opposed to the one-page preference in the U.S. and many European countries.
5. Travel to Australia
The flight was long but well worth it. Hello Australia! Now that you’ve set foot on new grounds, it’s time to get settled and continue this checklist as a resident.
6. Open a bank account
While opening a bank account in Australia is not a legal requirement, it will most likely make the process easier. Most companies in Australia distribute payroll through direct deposit. Also, if you plan on staying for an extended period in Australia, having a bank account there will help you save on fees, such as exchange rates and foreign transaction fees.
7. Get the TFN or ABN
You will need to have one of two essential identifiers to work in Australia: a Tax File Number (TFN) or an Australian Business Number (ABN). The TFN is a personal reference number in the Australian tax system. The ABN is for business owners or individuals who do activities in the form of a business, such as freelancing or renting out property. Both identifiers are provided by the Australian Taxation Office.
8. Obtain the necessary permits according to your needs
Certain jobs in Australia require you to have permits or certifications. For international students, the three most common of these permits are:
- RSA Certificate– A “Responsible Service of Alcohol” certificate is needed when working in hospitality, such as bars, restaurants, and hotels, that serve alcoholic beverages.
- Blue Card– This certificate is needed for working with or caring for children, including Au Pair/Nanny jobs. This certificate costs about 90 AUD but is free if you need it for a volunteer position.
- White Card- This permit is needed to legally perform any construction-related work in Australia. Having this card means that you’ve completed general construction induction training from a registered training organization.
9. Look for a job
Now that you know all of the information you’ll need to work in Australia, you can officially begin the job search process. We’ll guide you through the best job search resources available later on in the “job search” portion of this guide.
10. Work and enjoy this wonderful country
You can now enjoy earning a living while working in Australia! Allow this opportunity to leave an imprint on your professional development and overall experience of living abroad.
Requirements to Work in Australia
We briefly went over certain requirements needed to work in Australia, such as obtaining a visa, to give you an idea of what to expect. Now, let’s explain these requirements more in detail so that you’re prepared.
Work visa for Australia
There are several types of visas that allow you to work in Australia. Below are the main options for international students:
Student Visa (Subclass 500)
The student visa allows you to study in Australia for up to five years, as long as it’s aligned with your school enrollment. Under this visa, you’re allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school semester and 40 hours per week during the holiday or vacation break. To apply, you must be enrolled in a course of study that is recognized by the Australian government.
Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)
The Work and Holiday visa allows individuals exclusively between the ages of 18 and 30 to stay in Australia for one year. The Work and Holiday visa can be renewed twice and allows you to work full-time.
Working Holiday Visa Australia (Subclass 417)
Similar to the one above, this visa also allows people between the ages of 18 and 30 to live and work in Australia for up to one year but extends the age range to age 35 for Canadian, French, and Irish citizens. This visa also can be renewed twice.
Temporary Graduate Visa Australia
This is a temporary visa that allows international students who are recent graduates from an Australian institution to continue living and working in Australia between two and four years. Applicants for this visa must be under age 50.
Skilled Nominated Visa (subclass 190)
With this visa, you can study and work in Australia, permanently. The Skilled Nominated visa is geared toward professionals with skills needed in Australia. Individuals must be invited to apply for this visa. Applicants also are required to have competent English, be under age 45, and have taken a relevant skills assessment.
TFN or ABN
To work in Australia, you’re required to have a Tax File Number (TFN) if you’re working for a company, or an Australian Business Number (ABN) if you’re freelancing or running a business. To apply for either, you must have proof of identity (in this case, your passport) and proof of residency (your Australian address). You can apply for both the TFN and ABN for free through the Australian Taxation Office website.
Age to work in Australia
To work in Australia under any visa, you must be age 18 or older.
Having an Australian bank account may not be a legal requirement, but it can be an advantage. Most companies in Australia use direct deposit for payroll distribution, which can work in your favor during the hiring process. Also, you’ll save on foreign transaction fees, which banks charge when you withdraw money from an external bank account. Most importantly, having an Australian bank account will give access to a debit card, one of the most convenient forms of payment in Australia.
There are dozens of banks to choose from, but the biggest Australian banks with a large network of ATMs are Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, and National Australian Bank. Opening a bank account in Australia is easy and free if you have a student visa. Simply visit an office location of your bank of choice with your passport, visa, Australian address, and phone number. From there, a representative can help open your account within a few minutes.
While many companies in Australia require employees to have strong proficiency in English, don’t let that discourage you! Throughout our years of helping international students study and work in Australia, we’ve encountered many people who were still able to find work with minimum knowledge of English.
Self-confidence and a strong work ethic can go a long way. Also, if you’re a Spanish-speaker, there’s a large Spaniard and Latino community in Australia in which you can network. Best of all, studying English while working in Australia can help improve your English comprehension in no time!
Other requirements depending on the job
There are certain professions in Australia in which you need a certification before working. The following are the most common jobs that require one:
Construction industry | White Card Permit
The White Card is a permit that you must have to perform any construction-related work in Australia. This permit confirms that you’ve received the necessary training in general construction induction training from a registered training organization.
Hospitality | RSA Permit
Almost every hospitality job in Australia—restaurants, hotels, bars—serves alcoholic beverages and therefore requires employees to have a “Responsible Service of Alcohol” (RSA) permit.
Working with children (Teaching, Au pair) | Blue Card
Many international students take up an AuPair or teaching position while working in Australia. For any job or volunteer activity involving children, Australia requires the individual to obtain a Blue Card. This certificate is equivalent to a background check, to confirm you have no criminal history or record involving children.
Salary in Australia | How Much a Student Can Earn Working There
The pay rate in Australia is considerably higher than in many Latin American and European countries. With that in mind, there are several factors to take into account before analyzing how much money you can earn in Australia. Salaries vary depending on the city, the type of job, the employer, and the experience of the employee. To start, let’s review the average minimum wage and salary in Australia.
Minimum wage in Australia
The Australian government determines the minimum wage of the country, and it varies each year. As of 2020, the national minimum wage in Australia is 19.84 AUD, which is one of the highest minimum wages in the world. This is equivalent to about 14.29 USD.
So, if you’re a student working in Australia part-time, that means you could earn around 1,587 AUD per month!
Average salary in Australia
As of 2020, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average weekly salary working in Australia full-time is 1,659 AUD per week. This equates to about 86,268 AUD per year.
Salary in Australia for skilled jobs
Now that you have a base reference salary, you can get a better idea of salaries offered for high-qualified jobs. Working in Australia under a temporary visa, especially while still a student, may be more difficult to apply for these types of skilled jobs. You can, however, use websites like Payscale to assess how much you’d be able to make in the future in your area of study with a few years of experience.
Australia’s Most In-Demand Jobs
Due to Australia’s large amount of natural resources and a strong economy, there are plenty of great job opportunities available in various industries. With that said, each industry has its demand for certain jobs. Let’s explore Australia’s most in-demand jobs in four different sectors:
- Au Pair– If you enjoy working with children, many families in Australia look for live-in nannies to assist in child care. This can include taking their children to school, tutoring and homework assistance, and even teaching them Spanish. As long as you obtain a Blue Card, au pair jobs are fairly easy to get.
- Food Delivery- Did you know that the food delivery industry is booming in Australia? It’s the perfect way for students working in Australia to set their hours and work for themselves. As long as you have a TFN, a vehicle or bike, and a smartphone, you’re all set. Some popular food delivery companies in Australia, such as Menulog, let you register directly on their app and start delivering immediately.
- Hospitality- Hospitalities jobs are in demand in almost every country you visit. In Australia, there are plenty of job opportunities in this sector for international students. You can consider public-facing jobs, such as waiting tables in a restaurant or cafe, or internal jobs, such as housekeeping in a hotel. If you already have professional cleaning experience, platforms like Helping connect families and businesses in Australia with housekeepers and cleaners.
- Construction- Labor and construction jobs are very popular in Australia. As long as you have your White Card permit, you can utilize recruitment platforms like Workforce to assist in finding work specifically in construction and labor.
Working in your area of expertise
Many people who study abroad in Australia go intending to find a job in their area of study. While this is possible, it’s fairly difficult under a temporary student or work visa. Companies typically look for employees who desire to stay with them long-term.
For this reason, we recommend that you keep an open mind towards job positions. Remember, working in Australia, in general, is already a unique experience for international students, and it can be a great opportunity to network in your area of study and improve your interpersonal skills.
How to Find a Job in Australia
While networking is a great way to find job opportunities, you can also take advantage of digital platforms.
Job Search Websites
Australia has several popular job boards that help individuals find jobs within their location and area of interest:
- Seek– the most used job board in Australia
- Dream Nannies– for child care, au pair, and nanny jobs
- CareerOne– allows you to build an online profile and save searches
- Summer Jobs– great for temporary jobs during the summertime/school break
- Indeed– helps find Australia-based jobs as well as worldwide opportunities
Facebook pages to find work in Australia
Did you know that Facebook and other social media websites are also great resources for finding job opportunities? Facebook has many private groups catered to connecting and networking international students with jobs. Our GrowPro team even has a private Facebook group called Growers en Sydney, where international students in Sydney, Australia post and share events, jobs, accommodations, and other relevant information with one another.
Other Facebook group pages cater specifically to networking and experiences in Australia. Here are a few of our recommendations:
- Latinos en Australia for Spanish-speaking students
- International Students Australia for general networking
- Backpacker Jobs in Australia for finding temporary and part-time jobs
How GrowPro Can Help You Work in Australia
After reading this guide, we hope you’re well-informed and confident to start working in Australia. If you still have a few doubts, that’s okay! Here at GrowPro, we’ve helped hundreds of Growers just like you get settled and find work in Australia.
Once you arrive, we can help you look for accommodation, open a bank account, and even connect you with other students at our weekly hosted events. Our team is dedicated to providing adventurous souls like you with all of the information and resources you need.